Formula One is all set to crown its first virtual world champion at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The launch of an eSports series has been announced which will run from September to November 2017. The Formula 1 eSports Series is a result of collaboration between Formula 1, game developer Codemasters, and eSports specialists Gfinity.
The inaugural season will commence in September which will coincide with the launch of the 2017 game, and the qualification system would determine the 40 quickest drivers over the month. They will then be invited to the live semifinals, which will be held at the Gfinity Arena in London on October 10 and 11. The Top 20 from the semis will qualify for the finals, which will take place in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. A three-race event will witness the first-ever F1 eSports World Champion crowned on the same weekend as Formula 1 World Champion.
“This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans,” said F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches. “First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride. Of course as we do in Formula 1, we’ll continue to evolve and innovate in the way we run this virtual counterpart to the F1 Championship to ensure we provide the most exciting and enjoyable experience we can for our fans”, he added.
The 2017 eSport Series champion is said to secure automatic qualification to the semifinals of the 2018 World Championship and will also be named the ‘Formula 1 eSports Champion Expert’ for the following year, and be included as a character in the F1 2018 game. According to Codemasters CEO Frank Saigner, the eSports concept will take fan engagement to a new level.
“eSports is one of the fastest growing sectors of gaming already attracting audiences in the tens of millions.We are delighted to be announcing this incredible racing series with Formula 1 for our upcoming F1 2017 game. The highly competitive nature and high-speed spectacle of the sport combined with the authenticity of our game will provide a thrilling experience for players and viewers across the world. We look forward to engaging more deeply with our loyal and passionate community, and to bring new fans to both our game and the sport itself”, he said.